The Pagoda by Patricia Powell

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Synopsis

A brilliantly original and exotic novel that brings to life the mysterious world of a Chinese immigrant who fled China in the 1890s to seek a better life in Jamaica--a mesmerizing tale of love, longing, and hidden identity. Jamaica is in turmoil--still reeling from the racial and economic tensions of Emancipation, which brought Indian and Chinese workers to the island from other parts of the British Empire.

Lowe, the Chinese immigrant, is in his fifties--the owner of a small shop in an impoverished plantation village, and the guardian of a secret that is gradually revealed. Writing to a long-estranged daughter, Lowe tells her what happened during their years apart--a tale of exile from China, of estrangement from family, of shipboard adventures, of an unwanted pregnancy, of the arrangement that was made to avoid a possible scandal, of the three decades of living as man and wife with a light-skinned black woman named Sylvie. It is a story of the destruction of a world: the burning of Lowe's shop. It describes Lowe's dream of building a Pagoda--a school where Chinese workers might learn about their history and become a part of Jamaican life.

Patricia Powell's rich and artful narrative  carries us to an extraordinary climax, in a novel that captivates by the sheer force of its storytelling.
 

About Patricia Powell

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Patricia Powell was born in Jamaica in 1966. She received her B.A. from Wellesley College  and an M.F.A. in creative writing from Brown University. She is Briggs-Copeland Lecturer in Fiction at Harvard University. The Pagoda is her third novel.
 
Published January 1, 1998 by Knopf. 245 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Pagoda

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Depressed, Lowe couldn—t continue the letter, of course, a letter intended to tell Liz the truth about her birth and the past.

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Publishers Weekly

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Set in Jamaica in 1893, Powell's anguished if not entirely persuasive third novel (after A Small Gathering of Bones) tells the story of Lowe, an aging Chinese shopkeeper whose 35-year marriage of conv

Aug 31 1998 | Read Full Review of The Pagoda

Publishers Weekly

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Set in Jamaica in 1893, Powell's anguished if not entirely persuasive third novel (after A Small Gathering of Bones) tells the story of Lowe, an aging Chinese shopkeeper whose 35-year marriage of convenience to a lesbian octoroon named Miss Sylvie becomes a marriage of love as the couple faces th...

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